Engel-Meng Measure to Protect Public Housing Residents from Insufficient Heat Signed into Law by President Obama


Congress Members introduced the provision in response to concerns of insufficient heat at some New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings

Washington D.C.— A measure authored by U.S. Reps. Eliot L. Engel (D-Bronx/Westchester) and Grace Meng (D-Queens) to protect public housing residents from insufficient heat during winter months has been signed into law by President Obama.

The amendment, which the President signed as part of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, requires the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue model guidelines for minimum heating requirements at public housing units that receive federal funds.

The Engel/Meng provision, which the House approved unanimously in February, will help ensure that tenants are not forced to endure frigid temperatures in the winter. The two lawmakers authored the language in response to reports that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) had, as recently as 2013, shut down boilers in public housing properties unless outside temperatures dropped below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, forcing residents to go without heat during the coldest months of the year.

NYCHA is the largest housing agency in the United States. More than 400,000 New Yorkers live in NYCHA buildings, and more than half of those residents live below the poverty line.

“As someone who grew up in a New York City housing project, I was shocked and saddened to learn of these reckless and demeaning practices,” Engel said. “Every American living in public housing pays rent and, in return, depends on housing authority leadership to fulfill a very reasonable need: a safe and decent shelter. I thank Congresswoman Meng for partnering with me in this effort to ensure that public housing residents’ health and safety are protected.”

“I am extremely pleased that our measure is now the law of the land, and I thank President Obama for signing the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act,” said Meng. “Our amendment will help ensure that heating standards used by public housing agencies are at levels that will protect tenants during cold and frigid weather. This past winter, severalNYCHA tenants – including residents at NYCHA complexes in Queens – complained that they were without heat during several frigid nights. That is outrageous and 100 percent unacceptable. Nobody in public housing should be forced to endure freezing temperatures due to inadequate heat, and hopefully our measure will not allow that to happen in the future. Thanks to Congressman Engel for partnering with me on this important effort.”

The President signed theHousing Opportunity Through Modernization Act last Friday, July 29th.

Last December, Meng,Engel and eight additional Members of New York City’s Congressional delegation sent a letter to NYCHA expressing concern about reports of inadequate heat.